Anyone who has had the pleasure of catching one of Tim McNamee’s ministerial stops in the Hope area can attest to the crowds he brings.

It is all a part of McNamee’s mobile ministry he calls, “Ministry Is Where You Make It.”

“I’ve always just done it out of whatever vehicle I own,” the 58-year-old McNamee says. “I pull up any place, like drive-thrus, and I just set up my guitar and sing.”

However, this spring, McNamee’s traveling ministry is getting an upgrade.

McNamee and a handy bunch of gentlemen, known as the Master’s Mechanics, are sprucing up a vintage 1985 Volkswagon van that will become McNamee’s official ministerial vehicle.

“I am least of the mechanics,” McNamee says. “I am more the art and design department. We meet once a month to work on it.”

The first Saturday of each month, the guys gather for lunch, a quick Bible study and then it is time to get to work on the van.

As long as there aren’t any huge hiccups, the guys are hoping to have the van finished when the weather warms this spring, they say.

Initially, McNamee and his wife, Kathy, were on the lookout for a Jeep with four-wheel drive to help with work at their Blue Tassel Farm, located just outside of Hope. However, when McNamee set eyes on the Volkswagon van, he knew he had found a treasure.

Hope resident Chad Behrman attends the Columbus First Assembly of God Church with McNamee and is one of the seven or so mechanics working on the project.

Behrman, who is no stranger to not only working on cars but also rebuilding them, says his initial thoughts about the project were that it would definitely be an interesting adventure in mechanics.

And then he saw the van.

“God works in mysterious and amazing ways,” Behrman says. “I am always up for a challenge and I will try something at least once.”

Behrman admits the only thing standing between McNamee, the mechanics and a fully-functioning, road-worthy vintage van is time and money.

McNamee says he’d been on the lookout for a vehicle that would suit his needs for quite some time. Then, in February 2020, while cruising on west State Road 46 near Gnaw Bone, McNamee found his vehicle parked off the side of the road.

Everything looked kosher, he says. Granted, the van likely didn’t run as it hadn’t been fired up in quite some time and needed work, but that is to be expected, McNamee says, especially given the van’s age and how long it had been sitting.

When Behrman first laid eyes on the van it was baby blue and white accented with either a pink, or what had at one time been red, pin-striping.

“The last guy who painted it used house paint and a roller on it,” Behrman says. “That is what we started with. It didn’t have a fuel tank, but we were told it ran.”

As a testament to the fact there is nothing the Master’s Mechanics can’t rebuild or replace, the stripped-down van now sports a bold orange and white body.

The challenge was finding the right color scheme and approach, Behrman says.

“There are two ways to do it,” Behrman says. “One, you could make it like a clown car to get people’s attention or you could make it a vehicle that gets people’s attention, like a show car. We are trying to make the van more like the latter.”

The finished van will also feature a graphic of a gentleman playing guitar with the words, “Ministry is where you make it,” McNamee adds.

“When I travel and preach all over the state, I stay in hotels,” McNamee says. “I won’t be doing that anymore. This van will be fully equipped with a bed and all kinds of stuff.”

McNamee’s traveling ministry was born of not only a want to share the Gospel, but as a way to meet a real need.

As COVID first thrust everyone into lockdown, churches and church attendance suffered. With no way to gather safely indoors, churchgoers were left to gather outdoors or not at all.

“I don’t know that I would have ever started this at this level had COVID not happened,” McNamee says.

Early in the pandemic, McNamee took to Facebook and would regularly post where he would be performing and, just like that, the people gathered.

“I’d post, ‘I will be in the parking lot at this location, drive your car up, park, crack your window and we will have a concert,” he recalls. “I started doing that everywhere. I did several where 20 or 30 cars would show up. I was preaching open air, as well. I was going to churches and they were having parking lot services where people would honk their horns instead of clapping.”

Even while playing a few songs in the parking lot at a local football game, McNamee discovered just how much of an impact his sharing his music and the Gospel has on those who hear him.

After finishing a song a young girl of 14 years or so approached McNamee and shared how much she loved his music and appreciated what he was doing. McNamee recalls how the girl made mention of how rare it was to see someone “singing about Jesus in the open air.”

Knowing the difference he made in the life of just that one young person was enough to make McNamee’s day, he says.

And that example alone is one of many that serves as a testimony as to why McNamee is doing what he does.

“People need joy and happiness and sometimes life is really hard and you feel like you want to give up and then somebody like that little girl walks up and says something like that, so I’m not quitting,” he says. “It feels good to make people smile.”